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Wednesday, April 11
Updated: April 12, 11:38 AM ET
User comments on Earnhardt photos

We asked users what they had to say about the Dale Earnhardt autopsy photo situation. Here are some of your thoughts:

To Teresa and the Earnhardt family: What I think that these so-called reporters are doing is sick. I don't care what anyone says, Teresa is right, if they get into anyone else's hands, it will spell disaster. I've got a great idea. Let's just burn the pictures! That way, no one would need to see them ever again!

David Yaeck
Chatsworth, Calif.

I do not believe the new Florida law is constitutional. I do, however, believe anyone that wishes to publish the photos is a very sick individual. Having said that, I believe the Florida Legislature made the right choice. Governments exist for the people, not the other way around, and if there is an overwhelming public outcry for these photos to be sealed in a vault so the Earnhardt family may begin the healing process, this needs to be done. Freedom of the press, no matter how important, should not be able to intrude upon the privacy of a grieving family.

Alex Saunders
Madison, Wis.

It is my opinion that the photos should remain in the custody of the family. This is a very private matter and should be respected as such. I believe Teresa Earnhardt should fight as long as it takes. She is protecting her family. She and Dale have an underaged daughter that should be considered above all else.

Judi Battles
Tampa, Fla.

I think that it is so stupid that all of these newspapers want to have an "expert" look at these pictures -- especially a student one. Do they even know what NASCAR is? I still do not understand how these people can say they want to see these to determine the cause of his death. Let's think about that for a second. He was driving in a car 180 mph and he hit a concrete wall head-on. Hmmm, something sounds fishy there. I think the cause of death was probably a sinus infection. What difference would they make anyway, these cars are almost as safe as they can be and only freak things cause death in them. And as for the people wanting to put them on the Internet, they are pretty sick in the head and need to see a shrink. If you really enjoy seeing dead bodies that much, work at a mortuary.

Joe Wilhelm
Mankato, Minn.

I think the article by Whit Watson says it all. I do not want to see the photos on the Internet. However that should be a moral issue, not a legal issue. I know it probably will not happen, but I would continue to hope that as a society and as an avid race fan, we learn to police ourselves. We need to make the morally right decision not to buy a newspaper, magazine or to visit a web site that would publish such pictures. But as a citizen of the United States and agreeing with the Constitution, we should not legislate to seal public documents.

Patty Yoders
Jefferson, Penn.

I feel the Earnhardt family has gone through enough and they should be able to mourn. This whole thing has been a terrible ordeal. To think there are people out there who would enjoy seeing the pictures of Dale ... They need to get some therapy. Somewhere the line needs to be drawn on freedom of information. There is no need for these pictures to be made public. Leave the family alone and let them start dealing with the lose of a love one. My heart goes out to the Earnhardt family.

Jo Means
Ridgecrest, Calif.

I don't feel as though anyone's autopsy photos should be public record. The only way anyone should be able to gain access to such items is in a criminal investigation. Taylor Earnhardt is 12 years old and has suffered enough and will continue to suffer over the death of her father. Who's to say if these photos are released that they won't show up in her mailbox tomorrow, in two years or even 20 years from now. I believe the media in this country feel as though they have rights above and beyond the citizens of this country. I agree with Dr. Myers, Dale Earnhardt died from hitting a wall head-on at over 150 mph. Dale and Teresa Earnhardt knew that every time he got in that car he was risking injury. I think it's time to stomp the media and give the Earnhardt family time to grieve their loss.

Debbie Reed
Huntsville, Ala.

The compromise reached between the Sentinel and Teresa Earnhardt was the best way to approach this issue. The continued fight is senseless and only adds injury to the Earnhardt family all in the name of "Freedom of the Press." I do not believe the new law does anything to prohibit that, what it does do is keep vultures like Mike Uribe and his ilk from abusing that freedom and exploiting people. As far as the rest of them, let the lawsuit go forward so that there is legal precedent established to defend peoples personal privacy rights. I feel NASCAR needs to be more forthcoming as things develop, even if the investigation takes a long time.

Derek L. Broadbent
Kalamazoo, Mich.

At first, I did not want to see the photos. But I keep asking myself, is NASCAR trying to hide something? They tell us Dale's lap belt broke and they were sending it for testing, why hasn't the public heard the results of the tests? Why wasn't the police allowed to see the car and helmet? Why weren't they allowed to be present during the autopsy? I now believe there is a cover up. I am a big Dale Earnhardt fan and NASCAR fan, but NASCAR is slowly losing this fan.

Melissa Sapp
Campbellsville, Ky.

I feel this law is constitutional because it gives us back our most treasured right, the right to privacy. I also think NASCAR is handling this the best way that they can. They do not want to make a snap decision without having all the information. I will always miss Dale but we need to honor him by letting him rest in peace.

Sheila Kym Taylor
Littlestown, Pa.

Mike Helton says, "When we encounter situations that are new and unique ... " What makes this situation unique? The fact it was Dale Earnhardt and not Kenny Irwin, Adam Petty or Tony Roper? It seems NASCAR is starting to slip in their own mess. Their knee-jerk comments on the seat belt and now their much-to-late decision to investigate the crash are putting a bad smell in the air.

John Fulton
Wadsworth, Ohio

Contrary to what lawmakers think, unless there is proof of a crime I do not think anyone should have access to autopsy photos without consent of the family. We need to start putting ourselves in other peoples shoes. Would the editor of the Orlando Sentinel want photos of one of his loved ones spread all over the world?

John Means Sr.
Monticello, Ind.

I was a huge fan of Big E, and feel badly for Teresa Earnhardt, but NASCAR is responsible for this mess. Their Soviet-style secrecy has caused many of the questions the media is trying to answer. They fear criticism (and legal charges) that they do not do enough to protect drivers.

Thomas C. Smith

I just read Jerry Bonkowski's column on the release of the Earnhardt photos. I can't believe that he is supporting the release of those photos. I think he has shown his ethics are in the same league as the so-called writers of the newspaper he refers to in his column. Jerry, imagine if you had just watched your relative get killed in front of millions of people. If that shock wasn't enough, now you have people such as yourself pushing for the release of photographs of your dead relative. How low can you go? Teresa Earnhardt has one last private piece of this tragedy and that is those photos. Let her and her family decide what happens to those pictures and give her some peace.

Rich Blanton
Redwood City, Calif.

I feel Teresa Earnhardt should keep fighting to keep the photos sealed. In case the public hasn't noticed she is a very strong woman, who is capable of seeing this thing through to the end. I give her full support because, as a fan, I do not want to see gruesome photos of Dale Earnhardt. I want to remember him as he was. I also believe she wants to keep his memory the same to the public. She wants to have dignity to the name "Earnhardt." What about her young daughter? What about the young fans around the world? What happened to compassion?

Sabrina McQuaig
Waycross, Ga.

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